S.C. Republicans in Congress, "of course," set to defend Trump in impeachment vote 

Weight of Duty

Golly, this whole impeachment thing, allegations that the president has run afoul of our fundamental founding documents, might actually be complicated and important. Those darn Democrats are in a tough spot, sure hope they get it right.

What's that? You say Republicans are voting on impeachment too?

With conservative TV hacks and GOP purse-holders in offices steps from the capitol foaming for swing district Democrats to take any position on impeachment, we can't give a pass to their comrades in Congress who also are casting votes on impeachment this week.

For South Carolina's nine Republicans on the Hill, the facts of impeachment seem mostly irrelevant.

Contrary to the narrative that those Republican electioneers would like for you to believe, South Carolina Congressman Joe Cunningham is not the only person capable of being held accountable for their vote on whether to impeach President Donald Trump.

GOP flacks in Washington have already seized onto Cunningham's announcement that he'll support impeachment, calling him a coward and a "one-term wonder." Back home, I'm hearing the reaction has been about 50/50, a split you might expect in a district won by just a few thousand votes.

Every single elected official in the U.S. House and Senate are just as capable of voting yes or no as Cunningham who, despite no membership on any of the pertinent impeachment committees, says he sought out evidence supporting the president from Republicans even though the facts of the articles are largely undisputed.

That said, every elected Republican from South Carolina seems to be ready to fall in line behind Trump when the House votes on impeachment starting today.

Ahead of the vote, members of the S.C. delegation have largely dismissed impeachment with talking points and partisan hand-waving unrelated to the charges that the president obstructed Congress and abused his power.

One spokesman actually said his boss "will, of course, be voting against impeachment."

Presumably in an attempt at reverse psychology, it was U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman who accused Democrats of staging a "pre-ordained" vote against Trump as he announced he would stand with fellow Republicans. Just this morning as debate was getting underway, U.S. Rep. William Timmons, elected last year to replace Trey Gowdy, tweeted pictures of pre-signed "No" voting cards for both articles of impeachment.

In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, along with Norman, co-opted party talking points accusing Democrats of trying to "undo" the 2016 election. Of course, any sixth grader could tell you that the same U.S. Constitution that enshrines election procedures also outlines the process for impeachment.

Even the flimsy line parroted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham — that they aren't "fair jurors" — is either a plainspoken confession or a cynical excuse that they, too, have abandoned their Constitutional duties. Let's not get started on Graham and Trump's childish claims that the "Salem witches got a better trial," as if they would know anything about accusing women of hysteria.

To his credit, Graham has put his own undoing on public display over the past two years. Perhaps more than any other individual — more than Cunningham, Jared Kushner, or Nikki Haley — Graham's legacy is Trump's legacy. He has invested his life savings into Trump and seems determined to ride out a volatile market.

Thankfully for them, the Constitutional responsibility facing South Carolina's members of Congress does not have to be fraught with the potential for political and personal humiliation.

"Feeling the full weight of my duty," said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on the House floor this morning, citing his responsibility to defend the Constitution, "There is only one path for us to take to fulfill that oath."

Asking for voters to elect him in 2018, Cunningham often reflected on what his newborn son would think of his legacy if he was elected to Congress.

"One day, he's going to look me straight in the eye and ask me what I did at this pivotal moment in American history," Cunningham said. "I want to be able to tell him that I stood up for what was right."

Yes, let's hope they get it right.

Sam Spence is the editor of the Charleston City Paper.

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